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Super Mario Galaxy 2
From: Nintendo
For: Wii
Genre: Action, Adventure, Platformer
ESRB Rating: N/A
Super Mario Galaxy 2
Super Mario Galaxy 2 may utterly lack the original game's originality, but it's just as much a joy to play. Mind the cow.
Posted May 27, 2010
Funny, but a console generation ago Nintendo was mocking its competitors, pointing to the typical game publisher's proclivity for releasing a single "Big Game" and following it up with several derivative sequels, the predictable "cash cow" modus operandi that continues to this day.

The so-called "Nintendo Difference" was to create new games that saw Nintendo's iconic characters in a variety of original IPs, different games of differing genres such as Mario Kart (racing), Mario Tennis (sports), Mario Sunshine (adventure) and Paper Mario (role-playing) set to please gamers with familiar, veritably-beloved faces in undeniably-fresh game experiences every time.

Of course, Nintendo was floundering in last place in those days... What a difference a Wii makes.

Turns out, there's gold in them thar sequels. It's not just an easy-money thing, either; it's a better-game thing... well, it can be. Sequels genuinely afford a game developer to be more creative, expanding on gameplay, character, story and technique after all the hard, costly and time-consuming nuts & bolts, design and test and debug and fix and fiddle and retest and package and market and hope-for-the-best stuff required of an original IP is out of the way. It affords them opportunity to fix technical shortcomings or control issues that the buying public declared awkward, and to deliver on that same public's particular wish list of more-of-this but less-of-that if all goes well.

Generally speaking, a sequel is better than the original game, on a technical level if nothing else, but it's never as excitingly fresh. A fair trade off, certainly, especially for consumer who a) couldn't get enough of the original, or b) never played the original.

Anyway, somewhere between GameCube and Wii, the "Nintendo Difference" became the "Nintendo Gravy Train" banging out "Big Game" sequels with the best of them.

Such is the case with Super Mario Galaxy 2, a stock in trade sequel to an originally inspired game.

Not that the first Super Mario Galaxy was a revolution or anything. It was merely a logical progression for the celebrated chortling fathead known as Mario, well established as the video gaming's first and best platform hopping, bauble collecting, mushroom-popping adventurer. Super Mario Galaxy simply changed earlier Mario games' level design of puzzle-laden, trap encrusted, enemy encumbered, treasure packed rooms of derring-do to puzzle-laden, trap encrusted, enemy encumbered, treasure packed planetoids of originality-don't (save for some topsy-turvy, gravity-defiant twists).

But again, that's not necessarily a bad thing. The first Super Mario Galaxy was a joy to play in that child-like wondrous way of Nintendo. A primary-school color palette painted a daisy chain of little round worlds to explore with a prize, puzzle, or tussle at every turn and much too much to ingest in one sitting. It was and remains one of the longest-playing adventure games out there that defies boredom, because plowing through and completing the adventure too quickly means you missed something - a lot of things, most likely, so cleverly hidden are a great many secret goodies and passageways and alternate adventures within the core of the game itself.

What's more, it threw in a relatively novel gameplay mechanic that allowed a second player to join the first as an optional sidekick, allowing formerly at-odds siblings to actually sit down together and play nice. A totally understated feature that only parents can properly appreciate.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 is no different. It is almost exactly the same game save for the "whole new adventure" bit, which is quite a bit. Still sporting the kindergarten dreamscape look, still with the daisy chain of little round, prize and puzzle encrusted worlds to explore, and still much too much to ingest in one sitting. And it's an all new "galaxy," so to speak. For what it's worth, Mario has also picked up a couple new skills, Cloud and Rock suits, which are just generic magic ticks and super hero smashes by any other name, but so what? It's fun. All of it. Fantastic, even.

But make no mistake: you can't praise Nintendo for its original IP practices anymore, but instead for its magnificent adoption of the Big Game Sequel M.O. that brings the same-old-new-stuff as demanded by the public... and cash cows.
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Bang for your buck:
Great Rental 
Great New Purchase 
Excellent Pre-played 
Excellent Bargain-bin Buy 

Score:  4.5  (out of 5)